I have listened with considerable interest during the entire day and on previous occasions to the debate on this subject. I had also the privilege in 1912 and 1913 to be a member of this'House when a similar discussion took plaoe. Perhaps it will not be amiss to recall that discussion so that new members may realize something of the history of this legislation and perhaps, in passing that history under review, be enabled to reach a conclusion this afternoon as to how they should vote. It is my intention particularly to direct the attention of the House to the constitutional aspect of the question because the hon. member from Red Deer (Mr. M. Clark), with characteristic energy and force, has placed that side of. the argument in the forefront. In 1912, if my memory serves me correctly, the question of highway assistance was first introduced in this House. The principle that underlay that measure was that the Dominion Government should supply the money and should undertake the construction of the Toa'ds themselves when approved. When that measure went to the Senate for concurrence, concurrence was denied on the ground that it was an interference with provincial rights and that if the Dominion Government granted assistance towards the construction of highways it should 'be by direct vote to the provinces and not by undertaking the work themselves. The result was that in 1912 the legislation became of no effect due to the fact that the concurrence of the Senate could not be obtained.
In 1913 the subject was again brought before the House of Commons for consideration, and I should like to read to
the House one section of the Bill because it casts considerable light on the constitutional question. If any hon. gentleman has in his hand Bill No. 152, that we are now considering, and will be good enough to read paragraph (a) at the top of page 2 he will see the remarkable similarity between what was section 4 of 'the Act of 1913 and section 2 of the present Bill. Section 4 of the Bill of 1913 reads as follows:
Any highway or bridge for which aid is granted to a province shall toe improved or constructed, as the case may be, according to descriptions, conditions land specifications approved toy the Governor in Council and on the report of the minister, and' specified in each case in an agreement between the minister and the government of the province, which agreement the minister, with the approval of the Governor in Council, is hereby empowered to make.
That laid down the principle, as between the Dominion and the province, that the Senate did not object to there being an agreement provided 'the money was spent by the province. In sustaining my position, let me read what Senator Beique said, page 622-3 of the Senate Hansard, 1913:
I am not aware that a single member of this hon. House quarrels with this fourth clause of the 'Bill. It is worded as it was amended by this House last year, and It was approved toy. the House of Commons, and I take It that we are unanimous in favour of that section.
When the House of Commons objected to the reception of 'the Senate amendment by which the money was to be paid to the province, a message was sent back to the Senate insisting that the money must be spent by the Dominion Government. In reply to that message the Senate sent hack the following message:
That the Senate adheres to the seventh amendment for the following among other reasons-
The seventh amendment being that the money should be spent 'by the provinces:
1. Because section 6 of the Bill empowers the minister to undertake the construction or improvement of highways in any province, which would be a contravention of the letter and spirit of the British North America Act, 1867, and of the uniform practice under that Act, for which contravention no sufficient cause has been shown.
2. Because the said amendment affirms in effect that it is undesirable that the minister or the Dominion Government should usurp the functions of the provincial administration in the building and maintenance of highways and bridges.
And I would particularly direct the attention of the House to what I am now reading:
3. Because the said amendment will not hamper the administration in carrying out its policy in supplying the funds placed in the Estimates for that object under conditions and regulations it may deem just and1 proper to make, sufficient provision being made in earlier clauses of the Bill for co-operation between the Federal and provincial governments.
What does that mean? It means that the Senate, in 1913, and the Liberal Opposition of that day, accepted the principle that, provided the money was paid to the province to be expended by the province, it would not be unconstitutional and 'that an arrangement should be made as to the method of construction as to specifications and descriptions of highways provided such au arrangement could be made between the province and the Dominion.
I therefore submit that the hon. member for Red Deer and the hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. Bureau) are inconsistent in contending that what the Government is asking us to do is unconstitutional when they voted for exactly the same thing in 1913. Why do I say thait they voted for exactly the same thing in 1913? In 1913, by clause 4, provision was made for the setting aside of certain highways and the entering into oE certain agreements between the Dominion and the province as to the spending of money. The Senate agreed that that was right and proper and the members of the Opposition accepted that position as against the contention of the Conservative party that the money should be spent by the Dominion. Let us turn for a moment to Bill No. 152, the Bill that is before the Committee this afternoon. Clause 3 points out that a- certain amount of money shall be used for highway purposes and that the payments shall be- made on the " following conditions." What are the following conditions? Clause (a) reads as follows:
Any highway for which aid is granted1 shall be constructed or improved, as the case may be, in accordance with the terms of art agreement to be made by the minister with the government of the province, which agreement shall contain such provisions as to cost, description, specifications or otherwise a-s the Governor in Council may approve;
Exactly the same terms as are set out in section 4 of the Bill of 1913 and for which the hon. member for Red Deer, the hon. member for Three Rivers and other hon. members voted.
There has been no man in this House who has taken a stronger stand in the past few years in favour of economy than has the member for Kingston. But certainly I think this Highway Improvement Act is in a totally different position from a proposal
that means the spending of money for something that is not productive. I stated a few nights ago in this House that I saw various advantages that would result from the improvement of our roadways. One was that it would bring into this country many tourists who would leave a large amount of money in the Dominion and whose coming here I felt would be of great advantage to Canada. But far and beyond that is the improvement that would result to rural life in Canada. I know something-not a great deal because I am an urban rather than a rural resident-of the disadvantages under which the rural population in Ontario live, particularly in the early spring and the late fall. I do know that with the advent of the motor car, which is in very general use now, the farmer enjoys a measure of comfort which was previously denied him. But he is at a great disadvantage in that the full enjoyment of the motor car is not possible to our farming community because our roads are not constructed to carry a motor car over them with the minimum of wear and tear. Our macadam roads are breaking down, a great many have become impossible, and I believe that nothing will contribute more to the improvement of the conditions of life in the rural parts of Ontario than a substantial improvement in our roads.
And, Sir, I am not going to urge that the construction of trunk lines should be the only consideration. It is aboslutely essential that the side line roads should be improved as well as the main thoroughfares. If there is not sufficient money at the present day to improve the main roads how are the Governments of the provinces going to improve the side line roads? But, if this substantial grant proposed under this Bill is made to the provinces, it will relieve them of some of the burden incidental to main line construction and will make further sums of money available for the purpose of side line betterment. On rising I said that I should endeavour to confine myself largely to the constitutional question, and I think I have demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that the constitutional argument, as raised to-day, was brushed aside in 1912 as not worthy of consideration, and that the Bill in the form in which it is drafted this afternoon had the approval of the 'Senate and of the Liberal party who then were His Majesty's loyal Opposition.
Subtopic: GOOD ROADS-HIGHWAYS BILL.